tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC February 16, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
tonight on "world news," roaring comeback. the record profits at general motors tonight. the $7,000 checks being sent to assembly workers on the line. when do taxpayers get their money back? life in prison for the underwear bomber sentenced today. and we tell you what the explosion would have done had he succeeded. flying while drunk? a pilot about to take the controls, stopped by an airport worker who had the nerve to turn him in. arsenic alert. high levels in a formula eaten by toddlers. even energy bars. what about brown rice? tonight, dr. richard besser breaks down what you need to know. and big surprise. tourists at the white house, stunned by their official
greeter and her dog. good evening. what a comeback, tonight, for an american giant, general motors, announcing a $7.6 billion profit last year. the biggest in the 103-year history of gm. and this rebound comes just two years after gm emerged from bankruptcy, with the help of that bailout by taxpayers. today, factory workers, once afraid of getting pink slips, learned they're getting bonus checks worth $7,000 each. abc's david muir is live for us tonight, from the factory floor just outside detroit. they must be feeling great, david. >> reporter: they sure are, diane. and it's incredible when you think about it this way. this plant outside detroit, just a couple years ago was sitting idle. the workers had been sent home, laidoff. they had no idea if they were
ever coming back. just two years ago. tonight, gm is celebrating its biggest profits ever. that $7.6 billion, beating the last record set nearly 15 years ago. 640,000 more cars and trucks sold last year than the year before. today, we were invited in this plant in michigan, halted in 2009. you make about 800 cars in this plant every day? they do now, after it sat idle for 18 months. no one knew if they were ever coming back. you were all here? >> yes. >> reporter: you all know the uncertainty of whether or not you would come back? >> yes. >> reporter: they were all laid off. but they are all back tonight. 2,200 employees. those 800 cars a day. how relieved are you? >> if i could jump and touch the sky, i would. >> reporter: we want to get it on camera. how did they do it? gm sales up in north america. but some place else, too, china. last year, selling one gm car or
truck every 12 seconds there. and get this, gm's buick excel, is the most popular car in china. and that van, that many pooled their money to buy and then share with the neighbors. and then, the prototype, the electric car, seating just two, they're getting ready for that moving into the cities. it's not just sales being credited. it's sacrifice here at home. those workers took pay cuts up to 40%. and cuts in benefits as part of the bailout. today, they learned 47,500 blue-collar workers will get up to $7,000 in profit sharing. it was promised if they hit this mark. good. she says that check on the way, already spent. >> get caught up on some bills. and maybe i'll be able to get my new gm vehicle. >> reporter: a gm. >> yeah.
of course. of course. >> reporter: what a difference a couple of years makes. 800 cars now coming off this line every day. diane, we wanted to know, what have the taxpayers been paid back at this point? chrysler has paid back all of its money. and gm has paid back half of what it owes. the american taxpayer owns 30% of this company. washington waiting for that stock price to go up before it can recoup all of that money. it went up $2 today. >> i loved the worker saying, i can jump and touch the sky. david, thanks so much. as you know, the news out of gm energized wall street today. the dow up 123 points, closing just shy of the 13,000 mark. the highest close in nearly four years. the market was also buoyed by news that jobless claims have plunged to the lowest level in nearly four years. now, after two years, a terrorist faced justice today. the nigerian man known as the
underwear bomber was sentenced to life in prison, for attempting to blow up a jetliner on christmas day two years ago. the court saw what would have happened if the explosive would have worked. senior justice correspondent, pierre thomas, following the developments for us tonight. >> two, one. >> reporter: this is how omar farouq abdul mute tab planned to kill himself and all 289 passengers aboard a commercial flight on christmas day 2009. this fbi video was designed to show the true power of abdulmutallab's underwear bomb. watching the video at his sentencing today, abdulmutallab yelled in arabic, god is great. and he said in a statement to the judge, i am proud to kill in the name of god. >> the only thing that prevented the defendant from being successful that day was his own bad luck. >> reporter: abdulmutallab's goal, maximum destruction.
he sat in seat 19a, near the left wing, close to an 11,000-gallon fuel tank. the only reason he did not kill everyone aboard is because the bomb's detonator malfunctioned. prosecutors bluntly say abdulmutallab is an unrepentant mass murderer, who would try to kill again if given the chance. diane? >> thank you, pierre. and there was a scare today in the skies above air force one that ended in a strange twist. as the president's plane sat on the tarmac in los angeles, minutes from takeoff, a cessna wandered into the airspace. two f-16s were scrambled. the cessna was forced to land. the pilot, reportedly found carrying marijuana. as for the president, he had an uneventible one-hour flight to san francisco. now, news of another pilot. this one with frontier airlines. he was moments away from taking controls of an aircraft, with 29 people onboard, when an airport bus driver did something surprising. he turned in the pilot for
trying to board the plane while allegedly drunk. abc's jim avila has that story. >> reporter: frontier airlines flight 1894, from omaha to milwaukee, stuck on the tarmac this morning. the commuter jet held at the gate for two hours because the pilot was allegedly too drunk to fly. in fact, something was so obviously wrong, the hotel shuttle driver called police. and the pilot was stopped just after security and before he ever reached the plane. >> there was four police officers with the pilot. escorting him away. >> reporter: the omaha airport director said police questioned the pilot, determined he was ainebriated and turned him over to airline officials. passengers were never explicitly told what was wrong. but officers hinted at the problem. >> they confirmed without saying, the guy was not set to fly. he was drunk. >> reporter: faa policy called
bottle-to-throttle is strict. no flying within eight hours of consuming alcohol. and the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.04. since 2000, there's been 134 cases of allegedly drunk pilots, including this incident caught on surveillance tape in 2002, when two america west pilots were spotted drinking. and tsa screeners smelled alcohol on their breath. they were picked up just before the plane left the ground. the frontier airline says it has a zero tolerance policy. and after investigation, will take appropriate action against the pilot. normally in these cases, the pilot will surrender his or her license. if not, the faa steps in and revokes it. after a thorough rehab process, the pilot can reapply for reinstatement. >> and the passengers can thank that bus driver. thanks, jim. now, politics. "your voice, your vote." and the republican primary equivalent of the thrilla in manila. rick santorum has arrived in
michigan. and he's closing in on the front-runner there. now, the spotlight turns on to santorum's position, especially his positions on women. here's abc's jon karl. >> reporter: today, rick santorum took his high-flying campaign to michigan, portraying himself as a conservative, regular guy. >> my grandfather was a coal miner. he was the treasurer of his union. >> reporter: but today, santorum released his tax returns, showing that he raked in $3.6 million in the first four years after he left congress, even buying a luxury german gar. santorum says he made his money the old-fashioned way. >> after congress, i worked about six or seven jobs. i worked very hard because there were college tuitions i had to pay. bought a home. >> reporter: santorum made most of his money working as a consultant for companies lobbying congress. but it is foster friess, santorum's biggest financial supporter, who really raised
eyebrows with a bad joke about contraception. >> back in my days, they used bayer aspirin for contraceptives. the gals put it between their knees. and it wasn't that costly. >> reporter: and santorum himself is now facing scrutiny for his own comments on contraception, which he has blamed for moral decline in america. >> many of the christian faith have said, well, that's okay. contraception is okay. it is not okay. it is a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. >> reporter: that's consistent with santorum's catholic faith. but also a reminder of just how far to the right he is on social issues. even once comparing homosexuality to beastialty. and just last week, he told us he opposes women in serving in combat because military men will feel obligated to protect them. >> they may be more concerned about protecting someone who may be in a vulnerable position, a woman in a vulnerable position. and you throw on top of that, just simply physical strength and capability. >> reporter: mitt romney, eager
to appeal to conservatives has not criticized santorum on social issues or on how he made his money. he made 20-times what santorum made last year and paid half the tax rate what santorum did. >> all right, jon karl. thank you. and today, the united nations did something they have not done in recent memory. with sweeping support, they denounced a sitting government. and the target, syrian president bashar al assad. they asked him to step down, after what ban ki-moon called almost certain crimes against humanity. it passed by 137-12. but russia and china voted against it. and tonight, we take you into the stream of refugees and defectors from assad's army who says the cruelty there is worse than we know. alex marquardt from the syrian border tonight.
>> reporter: a shell rocks the city of homs today, a place that has been pounded non-stop for almost two weeks. the wrath of assad's army is now expanding to other opposition strongholds, including daraa, birthplace of the uprising 11 months ago. in december, residents were too frightened to speak with us, except for one brave man. this regime, he said, is worse than animals. thousands under siege over those hills in syria have escaped to neighboring countries like turkey. these border areas have also been a lifeline to those still inside, providing supplies to civilians and equipment to fighters rising up against the regime. these soldiers defected from the syrian army after refusing orders to fire on civilians. >> there was young men and children. there was women. and we had to shoot to kill them. >> reporter: like so many inside syria, they're begging for
international help. we are so tired, he says, of calling on the world to stop the killing. alex marquardt, abc news, on the turkey/syria border. and still ahead on "world news," that alert about arsenic in food. the ingredient you need to study the label to find. and imagine you're on a white house tour and you round a corner and the first lady says, hi. ♪ there's another way to minimize litter box odor: purina tidy cats. tidy cats premium line of litters now works harder to help neutralize odors in multiple-cat homes. and our improved formula also helps eliminate dust. so it's easier than ever to keep your house smelling just the way you want it.
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ask if nexium is right for you. if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help. . and now, we wanted to go in depth tonight on that headline about surprisingly high levels of arsenic hiding in food, including brown rice, organic formula for toddlers. the new study is causing a lot of confusion. is this cause for real alarm? and what should consumers do? abc's dr. richard besser breaks it down. >> reporter: first, it was arsenic in apple juice. now, it's showing up in toddler formula. the dartmouth researchers looked at a number of baby formulas and found baby's only organic, toddler dairy and soy formulas contained six-times more arsenic than what the fda says is safe in drinking water. the researchers also found it in many energy bars. the main culprit? arsenic in one of the main ingredients, brown rice syrup.
>> which is increasingly used as a sweetener to replace high fructose corn syrup, is also, unfortunately, high in arsenic levels. >> reporter: high. but is it dangerous? arsenic is found in a lot of foods in tiny amounts. it can be natural. but it can also be the result of things like pesticides. long-term exposure to high doses can cause a myriad of health problems. everything from heart and liver damage to cancers of the bladder, lung and skin. but for adults, at the levels found today, it is not considered a danger. an adult would have to eat three of those energy bars a day, every day, just to begin to exceed what's considered safe. but infants and children are a different story. with developing brains and bodies, doctors simply don't know what level is completely safe. how did the arsenic get into the food? when cotton was king in the united states, arsenic was legal as a pesticide. that arsenic is still in the soil. those cotton fields now grow rice. and rice is especially good at pulling arsenic up out of the
dirt. and in a shock to healthy eaters brown rice is found to have more arsenic than white. so, where is the government in all of this? today, there's no standard for amounts of arsenic in food. >> we need someone to say, this is the line. and you have to come in under this line. >> reporter: for their part today, nature's one, the company that makes the toddler formula, says their lab test results, quote, report undetectable amount lgs of arsenic at laboratory testing limits. but until this is sorted out, i think parents will be very worried. >> so concerned about arsenic. and as you say, it's not the first time we heard about it. what about brown rice? we switched to it. >> reporter: there's so many benefits to brown rice. there's low levels of arsenic in many things. two things i can do, and you can do, wash that rice really well before cooking it and cook it in
extra water. that can reduce whatever arsenic may be in there. >> and it will be safe. >> reporter: it will be safe. >> thank you, richard besser. and coming up, the unsuspecting white house tourists who got the surprise of their lives today. hope their cameras worked. copd makes it hard to breathe, so i wasn't playing much of a role in my own life, but with advair, i'm breathing better so now i can take the lead on a science adventure. advair is clinically proven to help significantly improve lung function. unlike most copd medications, advair contains both an anti-inflammatory and a long-acting bronchodilator, working together to help improve your lung function all day. advair won't replace fast-acting inhalers for sudden symptoms and should not be used more than twice a day. people with copd taking advair may have a higher chance of pneumonia. advair may increase your risk of osteoporosis and some eye problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking advair. if you're still having difficulty breathing,
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but it would cost $50,000 to install. so, that was their solution. and as we said, imagine rounding the corner on a white house tour and seeing something your eyes could not believe. first lady michelle obama and the first dog, bo. one gaggle of young girls just squeaked. one of them managed a very teenage -- oh, my god. listen. >> oh, my god. >> and in her surprise, an older woman kissed mrs. obama's hand, much to the delight of her husband. mrs. obama spent an hour and 20 minutes with the visitors, saying the president was out campaigning and she just had some time on her hands. and coming up, 45 minutes after "guess who's coming to dinner," we have new numbers tonight on how much interracial marriage is now a part of the fabric of america. [ mayhem ] please continue to hold. the next available claims representative will be with you in 97 minutes.
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dramatic increase in interracial marriage. abc's linsey davis has the news tonight. >> reporter: this new data from the pew research center just might support the idea that love really is color-blind. >> as the country has become more diverse, kind of old taboos and old biases, if you will, have melted away. we see this very clearly and particularly among younger adults. >> reporter: and it's those in their 20s and 30s who are most accepting of interracial dating and marriage. about one in six couples who got married in 2010 were across racial lines. in 1980, only 3% of marriages were interracial. it all started with mildred and richard loving, who got married in 1958, only to be arrested five weeks later because she was black and he was white. "the loving story" debuted this week on hbo, about the landmark case that went all the way to the supreme court. >> that is the right of richard
and mildred loving to wake up in the morning or to go to sleep at night and know that the sheriff will not be knocking at their door. >> reporter: in 1967, justices ruled in favor of ending race-based legal restrictions on marriage. that time year -- >> mom, this is john. >> reporter: sidney poitier starred in this groundbreaking drama, "guess who's coming to dinner," about a parents' acceptance of an interracial couple. and now, nearly 50 years later? >> it's clearly a case where the behavior and the attitude reinforce each other. so, the more commonplace racial intermarriage becomes, the more accepting the public becomes. >> reporter: the boundaries of marriage are clearly changing. no longer quite so black and white. linsey davis, abc news, new york. and we thank you for watching. we're always on at abcnews.com. "nightline," of course, later. and we'll see you right back here to close out the week tomorrow night. good night.